BOWRAL’S TULIP TIME – tiptoeing festively

Corbett Gardens, Bowral. It may not be the Keukenhof, but it’s the best we can do.

Regular readers of RT’S LOTR may have noticed that Mevrouw T and I haven’t been getting out much lately. We’ve been restricted by a combination of paid writing work (good) and knee surgery (not so good, but it will be fine in the end).

We did however manage to squeeze in a day trip out of Sydney to the Southern Highlands, for a hobble through Bowral’s annual Tulip Time Festival.

It’s only an hour or so’s drive from our place to the centre of the action.

A lot of escapees from Sydney are hiding out in Bowral, and they’ve brought with them a taste for market umbrellas and good coffee.

Of course the Dutch have to celebrate Tulip Time with Nederlands cuisine. These are poffertjes, mini-pancakes with strawberries.

Those who know cricket may associate the name Bowral with Don Bradman, statistically the game’s greatest ever batsman. The Don was born in Cootamundra, NSW, in 1908, but his family moved to Bowral when he was two, and it was here that he learned to play the game.

According to legend he practised by knocking a golf ball against a tank stand with a cricket stump, then got picked to play for Bowral, St George, NSW and Australia, thrashed the Poms before and after WWII, and was bowled for a duck in his final test innings. Here endeth the Bradman lesson.

Bowral celebrates its most famous son with the Bradman Oval and Bradman Museum, now expanded to be the grander International Cricket Hall of Fame.

Mevrouw T’s Dutch heritage has left her with a sad lack of interest in leather and willow. So we skipped the ancient balls and bats, and instead spent our day with the Southern Highlands’ other main attraction – open gardens.

It’s too warm to grow tulips in Sydney, but in the cooler Southern Highlands they do well.

Developing the spectacular gardens at Red Cow Farm has been a big job for owners Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrissey. The gardens are formal, with little use of native plants, but it’s appealing to see crimson rosellas (native parrots) flitting around magnolias and wood ducks enjoying the lake.

It may not be to everyone’s taste. but you have to admire the trouble they go to at Red Cow Farm.

Who weeds the paths and trims the hedges?

Hellebores enjoy the shade and the cool climate. We enjoy the hellebores.

Red Cow Farm lake.


The Tulip Time Festival takes place in September/October each year and numerous Southern Highlands gardens are open to the public during this period. For a full list of those open in 2012, CLICK HERE.


Filed under Travel-Australia

10 responses to “BOWRAL’S TULIP TIME – tiptoeing festively

  1. Hi Richard, Sorry to hear about the knee, I hope it will recover quick. It’s funny to see the tulips when in Netherlands we have a nice fall. Today I was out cycling in the woods, I wasn’t the only one. But poffertjes are always good!

    • Thanks Herbert. The knee will come good. Our Aussie tulip gardens are very modest compared to the Dutch ones, though the setting in the Australian landscape is really nice.

      There was a serious bike ride as part of the festival too, though we passed on that one – another year maybe!

  2. Good post. Having lived in Spalding I appreciate Tulips. We once had the World Tulip Summit there and I had the job of welcoming the delegates in the opening speech! As regards Don Bradman my dad always said that he was bowled for a duck because he had tears in his eyes after having received a rapturous round of applause on the way to the crease and he couldn’t see properly!

    • Thanks Andrew. Should Bowral ever host a World Tulip Summit, it’s good to know that an experienced keynote speaker is available. I assume you’d make the trip DownUnder if provides a motel room and Chinese takeaway?

      Yes, Bradman’s final innings has become the stuff of legend. He needed only 4 runs to retire with a batting average of over 100 and ended with 99.94.

      (For the benefit of non-cricket followers – the next best cricket batting average ever is South African Graeme Pollock’s 60, and the best average among current players is Sachin Tendulkar’s 55. Bradman is so far ahead it doesn’t matter.)

  3. Tulips in Australia? I’m reeling with amazement…. I dunno, I figured that tulips pretty much only grow in the Netherlands…

    So *those* are poffertjies? They look utterly delectable! I’ve sometimes seen them at local fairs – I’ll make a note to try them next time.

    And I hope your knee(s) heal quickly – so that you can enjoy the southern hemisphere summer on your bikes again.

    • A poffertje is about the right size and shape for inserting into a knee as replacement cartilage, but I don’t know if anyone’s tried it yet.

      • They may be the right size and shape, but are they strong and sturdy enough? Particularly for a passionate biker-hiker? Wouldn’t you end up with strawberry jam oozing out of your knees? I think perhaps the conventional route might just be better. ­čśë

  4. A fresh melt-in-your-mouth poffertje would naturally not be tough enough for the job, Reggie, but a stale, week-old ‘orthopedipoff’ could be perfect.

    (It’s actually Mevrouw T’s knee we’re talking about here. She needs it for cycling purposes too and isn’t yet ready to donate her joints for medical experiments.)

  5. kevinmayne

    Two knee operations so far, but back to riding. Best recovery incentive ever!

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